In most cases, cold sores will heal on their own without any treatment. However, there are ways to help manage symptoms, decrease the length of time with an outbreak, and prevent future outbreaks.
Although treatment can help relieve or reduce outbreaks of cold sores, the virus cannot permanently be cured. The herpes simplex virus will persist in the nerve tissue once it is in your body.
Cold sore treatment includes:
There are no surgical options for the treatment of cold sores.
Herpes treatment. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/herpes/treatment.html. Updated December 2010. Accessed February 17, 2014.
Herpes simplex. DermNet NZ website. Available at: http://dermnetnz.org/viral/herpes-simplex.html. Updated February 6, 2013. Accessed February 17, 2014.
Kuehl B. Cold sores: how to prevent and treat them. Skin Care Guide website. Available at: http://www.skincareguide.ca/articles/herpes/to_prevent_cold_sores.html. Accessed February 17, 2014.
Oral herpes. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115104/Oral-herpes. Updated October 5, 2015. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Last reviewed February 2016 by David L. Horn, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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